Andrew of the North, Ursa Verde - Seven Days, June 13, 2018
Locals may know New Hampshire-based pianist Andrew Grosvenor from his frequent appearances in Burlington, including the weekly Family Night jam sessions at SideBar and his own monthly residency at Radio Bean. Additionally, he played in the long-defunct Burlington group Woodshed. His mythic current moniker, Andrew of the North, aligns with the grandiose tunes of his latest album, Ursa Verde.
Recorded for the 2018 RPM Challenge — a yearly feat of endurance that tasks participants with crafting a 10-song album in 28 days — Ursa Verde has an energized, urgent sound. Grosvenor played every instrument and tracked all of the parts in his basement. Smartly, he enlisted Burlington's Tank Recording Studio for mixing and mastering assistance; the final product is both scrappy and solid.
Grosvenor's vocals are crisp and clear throughout. His enunciation and vocal timbre recall that of a certain ultra-phamous jam band's front man. In fact, his jangly, soul- and blues-injected keyboard-rock is generally reminiscent of Phish.
Vaguely tropical beats and rounded bass open "Aditi." Multitracked vintage keys and piano gurgle beneath Grosvenor's imposing, occasionally faltering vocals.
With only handclaps and the tinny chirp of a coffee cup struck with a wedding ring, "Holler" stands out from the other keyboard-driven cuts. With references to the Maccabees on every refrain, it's like an obscure folk song you'd hear in an elementary school music class. But what's it doing in the middle of a rock record?
A blown-out Rhodes anchors the bouncy "Tell Me." The narrative ballad draws a connection between life's mundaneness and the anxiety that comes with it.
Grosvenor's tunes have a humble sincerity that makes Ursa Verde a valiant effort.